One day left in January and I am just now getting around to documenting December. I nearly let it go to the wayside but I know I would regret that.
December was a bit of a weird month. School was more random than I care for. Zack has been using my car, so we were (still are) stuck at home all the time. Time drug on and on. Our house was a disaster (still is) from remodeling and we had to put up and take down our decorations a few times. The holiday season was not as sparkly as it usually is. We also bought the girls gifts for the first time since we had no time to fulfill an ‘experiences.’ We did manage to slide our family gift in – which was to see Star Wars in the theater (for the fifth year in a row!).
We had a few run-ins with some snow, but nothing truly great yet, and none on Christmas day. It was, I believe, just enough for the likes of my girls.
The cats are inside nearly full time for the season! They are dog-level needy, but the girls are enjoying George snuggles daily.
We got the keys to the new house December 23rd!
We spent every available moment at the house over Zack’s winter break..and nearly every weekend in January. December had decent, usually warm weather (check out those tee shirts!) so the girls were able to spend their time in the new yard which comes with a treehouse and playground equipment – and space upon space to run!
Two days before Christmas, Grandma realized she was too busy to come to our house (two hours away), so we took our decorations down for the last time, loaded our things into the car, and we to her house two days early.
We also spent time getting Grandma’s house ready to sell.
She had just moved into this when Zack and I began dating, fifteen years ago!
My brother, Ben, and his family came for a visit (the initial reason we drove up to my mother-in-law’s). I have no photos of Ben or his wife or their son Carson, but plenty of the girls with Susie!
My parents were able to spend time with seven of their nine grand-kids!
We walked around parks and Downtown Saint Charles, played many games, and just over all enjoyed being together for about a week.
Before heading back to our little corner of the world, we took the girls and my mom to Ikea, just ’cause we like it.
The girls are still so good at pretending. I often let them act out a situation in each room display. They could spend hours in there. We even ate lunch there that day. Zack and I really like the 1970s thing they’ve got going on. All my favorite colors and styles done right and all in one place. Yes, please.
I don’t typically wish days away, but I was glad to see December go. There was so much to be overwhelmed by. January hasn’t been much different honestly (so much to do at home!!), but at least it flew right on by!
I think I took about three photos in January, so it will be interesting to find out what I recall mentally from the whirlwind of driving, fixing, packing, driving, teaching, cooking, driving, and the constant ‘doing.’ We have experienced seven years of living in a home as we remodel it, but somehow we haven’t felt the chaos of it until now.
BUT! The kitchen is clean and that is something…happy February!
Zack, the girls, and I will be living in a big house with his grandparents and his momma!
We already have the house and have been spending eighty percent of our time helping his mom and grandparents getting their homes/things in order. They will be moving in first and get settled before our loud bunch shows up full time. (The girls, the dog, and I may actually join them earlier than May, to continue to help them out…so maybe they won’t get much quiet time, haha.)
This has been a couple of years in the making (on mine and Zack’s side of things), but once everyone really decided to go for it, things moved real quick! We closed on the new house on December 23rd and it is PERFECT for all of us.
This may very well be mine and Zack’s forever house (I never liked that term, but it is very likely to be the most appropriate.)
We are ten to fifteen minutes from our favorite people. The same people we have traveled to nearly every other weekend for years to visit!
We still have a busy few months ahead of us before everyone is settled in completely, but we sure are excited!!!
November was not as full as I had hoped it would be. I barely had a voice for about two weeks, so I had to get creative when I was feeling up to teaching anything a bit formal. Thankfully, during those two weeks, the weather was decent so the girls could get out of the house and didn’t develop the dreaded cabin fever this early in the season.
Science this month involved animals. It meant I didn’t have to talk, just prepare lessons and let David Attenborough fill in the gaps. Ha. Mae took it upon herself to investigate more by digging through books we own and *approved* Youtube videos.
We only made it through one, shorter group read aloud this month. (I had three chapter books set aside) But it was a great one!
Mad Mattr seemed to be the activity of choice during group read-aloud time.
The girls had lots of copy work, which has not been as big of a priority this semester. So much writing! Rae was not thrilled and will surely be bummed to find out I liked the results and plan on bringing it back full force.
We also played more games in a single month than we ever have.
Rae even made her own Candyland game! She made paper people go with it, but we used legos because it made it more fun (and that way she could be Lloyd). Her candy spots were peanuts, a lollipop, Twizzler, and an ice cream cone. The characters on the board were the four of us. I’m definitely framing it when we’ve worn it out.
Mae took to writing songs. Whether they amount to something or not, I thought it would be good practice for writing and identifying the notes.
Rae keeps to herself and never really needs help with anything no matter the subject. However, if I sit with her while she works, she becomes the biggest chatterbox and laughs at all her own jokes. It’s the best.
Throughout the year, we read up on and talk about native Americans. The girls and I are fascinated by them. In November, we have formal lessons about them in preparation for Thanksgiving. Because I couldn’t talk much, we are probably going to continue researching them into December, because I think of too many projects I want to they would like to work on and there is always more to say.
We read a few books from the library, but my favorites are some we own –
Art is constant in our house. That is probably no surprise to anyone. Zack and I took SIX art classes together in high school, and a few others apart from each other (and more in college). My older brother was constantly drawing growing up. Every year for his birthday he was sure to get fresh sketchbooks and drawing tools. Zack too was drawing most minutes of the day, even around every page of notes from high school and college (We have totes full of his notebooks and sketchbooks!) as well as every bulletin he’s received in various churches.
Rae is definitely falling in their footsteps. I have taken to buying her some of her very own sketchbooks which she quickly fills with sights and thoughts of her day. Her most drawn subject is me (much like high school Zack).
Below are drawings from both girls. While Mae doesn’t care for drawing (and Lord forbid I have her color something in), I will occasionally catch a glimpse of her jotting down a quick doodle. Like me, she prefers to draw animals and nature-related objects to stretching her imagination. She has an incredible imagination for telling stories and ‘inventing’ but sometimes drawing feels like a punishment. (For Rae, writing is a punishment, haha)
A few months ago, Rae began drawing her perspective and it blew my mind!
Green is my favorite color, and Rae makes sure to always dress me in it…
Rae’s Wizard of Oz characters.
Stickers are still very beloved, as is a good snow day.
Rae drew each and every Miyazaki/Ghibli movie she could think of! I only posted two, though…
We do not own this kind of cooking timer and I don’t think we know anyone who does. That girl is so creative!
Mae still dreams of dancing again. It was so nice of her sister to see her as a dancer.
On this one, she wrote “To Mom” followed by my phone number, which she writes on just about everything she gives me.
Three grandparents were able to visit on her birthday (Saturday birthdays are the best!), so we threw her a tiny on the fly party.
We served tomato soup with bread and chocolate cake!
Her grandparents all brought many gifts, and from Zack and I, she decided (after changing her mind three times) she wanted to go and see Frozen 2 in the theater, so she has three more days to wait. She is so excited!
Her first request was to take Grandma Penny and Grandma Shari out to eat at Taco Bell – where she would order a rice bowl. That’s all she wanted!! These girls smother us in so much cuteness.
We played game after game, and I do believe she got a proper amount of spoiling from everyone.
She still occasionally comes up to me and reminds me that she is now seven years old. Haha.
You are seven today! You have been so eager for this day, sometimes shaking with giddy anticipation. It reminded me, for the first time in a long time, of when you would shake (with the largest of smiles plastered on your face) at the thought of some incredible moment on the horizon. I am filled with such a comfort knowing, while you are older and more mature, you really haven’t grown far from younger you.
Something that has not changed is your commitment to your interests. When you like something, you really like something. You don’t flutter from one great thing to the next. You get to know everything you can about what you enjoy. Your first big love was Star Wars, which held strong from age three to age six. With six came an interest in Ninjago and art (particularly drawing), and even now you show no signs of moving on to new interests.
You love love love when I lie down on the floor and play Legos with you. You build and build for hours and though you love to have company you don’t require or even wait around for it. You are your own woman. Always have been. Hopefully always will be.
I have really been blessed with so many hours of one on one drawing, cooking, reading, and Lego time with you in the past few months. Time with you, hearing your thoughts, sharing mine, has been such a gift to me.
You love me and you show me nearly every minute of every day – whether with hugs, kisses, drawings, gifts, requests for me to join you in doing what you enjoy, or requesting to join me with what I enjoy. I am trying very hard to appreciate having you around every minute of every day. Which, is not hard, but what I wouldn’t give to freeze time and spend days with you, uninterrupted.
You are brilliant. You think of the most insightful things to say and, usually, stop to think before you speak. Knowledge seems to come easy for you. Maybe that is why I am so grateful you still have a resemblance to your younger self? Your big brain hasn’t stifled your sweet six seven-year-old nature.
Seven! I am excited to see how you change this year and how you stay the same. I am continually getting to know you – the real you underneath your circumstance.
Welp, I’m off to watch Ninjago with you for the umpteenth time before you head to bed tonight. Your first sleep as a seven-year-old!
I hope wherever life finds you now, you are happy, carefree, and maybe, if you have time, you could send me a new drawing for old time’s sake?
OCTOBER! The month of birth and of my firstborn. The month fall shows up and we bring out all the warm clothes and hearty food. Most of the bugs are already hibernating and the birds fill our porch to fill up on seed. It begins the final and most holiday filled months of the year. I love this time of year!!
The hens have begun to molt which means fewer eggs for us (which is fine!!) Rae had been requesting boiled eggs and as a way of marking them, she has been doodling on them. Although, if the eggs are in the fridge, they’re boiled, so they don’t really need to be marked, but doodles make it fun.
We spent the morning of the first chilly day at the park. We brought breakfast as well as tea in a thermos, Rae’s pumpkin (’cause, autumn), a vase of flowers, and candles. We read Jill Barklem‘s Autumn Story (Brambly Hedge) and a chapter from Elska (Horse Diaries series). Afterward, they explored, collected nature and marched around and around the large firepit.
Mae turned NINE this month!
For her ‘birthday experience’ she chose to get her ears pierced. We celebrated on the last weekend of September since we would be in the city (near a Claires). She chose ‘diamond’ studs to match the earrings she always picks out for me to wear so that we could match. I mean.Could she be any sweeter?????
The girls each carved a pumpkin early on in the month. We listened to the old radio drama version of Frankenstein while they did so. We also thought of ideas for Mae’s actual 9th birthday – Family video game time, no formal school, bake something, etc.
On Mae’s actual birthday, she requested pumpkin cinnamon rolls for breakfast and a bonfire with s’mores before bed. The moon was so bright; when they were done the girls ran around the yard in the moonlight dancing around the shadows of tree limbs.
She ended up with marshmallow in her hair. She just asked that I cut it out – which took out quite a large chunk of hair. She was so happy to hear that she may need a full hair cut that we chopped it off right then and there. She is thrilled with it and hasn’t had a single tangle since.
Rae is still delivering one hundred drawings to me daily. She always writes some version of, “Mom, I love you,” on each one.
This is definitely one of my faves. The ghost on a string, I have shopping bags for some reason, the heart knee patches and the intricate zipper, that sweet striped shirt with sleeves that are juuust a bit too short (cold wrists foreverrrr), that cool bob I wish I could pull off, that thick swipe of eyeliner, and that freckled smiley next to my face. Mmmmboy.
The hens have become mega chill now that it is cold outside. I still don’t trust Miss Maybe around them so they are stuck in their coop always, but we managed to coax her inside so Mae could hold a lady for a bit. Anyone remember our old flock following her around the yard like a mama hen? I miss that.
As well as a side bit about our Viking lessons here.
The girls cooked and baked and cooked and baked. (My favorite was the Barmbrack they made for my birthday!) The colder weather certainly makes us enjoy so much daily time in the kitchen – except for the cleanup part. Although, Mae did flash a smile up there while putting away clean dishes. Maybe the entire process is wonderful?? Must be.
My aunt sent me a text of an incredible cake she thought my girls and I would dig. Boy, did they!
They, of course, wanted to make their own and quickly chose a turtle. I kept all of the icing-less scraps for myself. I think we will try something with coconut fur next!
Zack was away for two weekends with friends and had friends over one evening and a few drop by on other evenings. That man needs as many brakes with friends as he can get to balance out his constant jobs and side jobs and home renovations.
We sure missed him while he was canoeing, camping, and hiking with friends. I tried to make it extra fun for the girls while he was gone. We almost had a movie night and some sort of fun meal – in the photo above, we grabbed Chinese food and they were so excited to go into the restaurant since they had never seen the inside. It doesn’t take much to make them happy!
I turned 32 this month!
We don’t typically give each other gifts, but Zack got me every episode of my favorite show! I’ve been waiting for years to get it. Rae drew this for me one day (always drawing!!) and I adore it. I have every episode memorized but I still chuckle constantly.
Back when we could go a day without rain, the girls enjoyed raking leaves. Not to jump in, they just like raking. They laughed and laughed so much. I am so thankful they are friends.
Miss Maybe got some extra love and plenty of scraps this month. She also spent more and more time outside exploring that usual. Getting into trouble, no doubt.
Fridays are a bit more lax for us. On this particular day, we headed up to the library after our morning time and thought it was so incredibly pretty in town that we must stay a bit longer.
We grabbed some warm beverages and donuts from a gas station, found a spot back by the library to park, and walked.
We walked until we came to the gazeebo by the tracks so they could enjoy their treat and wouldn’t you know, a train drove by just for them.
We took the long way back to the car. We named our favorite houses and admired everyone’s decorations, tried not to trip on the sidewalks/tried to catch those who did trip, and talked about anything and everything.
The girls are still trying to enjoy that pioneer life as best they can.
Have you read Ox-Cart Man? That would be Mae’s ideal life. Rae likes dressing the part and the cooking. In the photo above, they were enjoying some tea (water) and reading some pioneer type books.
Mae is very into Halloween. She enjoys thinking up a costume, wearing said costume out of doors, collecting candy, being in and walking around town, carving pumpkins, observing everyone’s decorations, the fall trees being in full color, any and all fun food that comes with the holiday…she likes it all.
We didn’t really celebrate Halloween when I was a kid. The last Halloween I remember I was possibly five-years-old? I was a black cat. I can’t imagine my parents ever celebrating it as kids. So once I had a child who was so enthusiastic about it, I decided to run with it and figure it out as we go.
This year, we decided to carve an extra round of pumpkins on Halloween. They also danced to fun Halloween music (they really like Thriller this year), watched Hotel Transylvania and the making of the Thriller video, and read books we grabbed ahead of time from the library. I gave them the day to themselves – no school, no chores.
Our first stop this year was to our wonderful neighbors! We usually make them our last stop, but it was SO cold this year, we went there first before the sun began to go down. They are always happy to see the girls and they give them the best goodie bag of treats -like popcorn and hot chocolate, pencils, and a couple of pieces of candy.
Zack was able to go trick-or-treating with us for the first time in years! It was so nice to have a buddy and for him to see them, old enough to walk to the door without us and hear their joy about it all as we walked.
We went to more homes this year – possibly because I had a buddy who could warm me up. Everyone was genuinely happy to see the kids come up and get candy. It was so nice to see.
Their costumes were perfect since they could bundle up as much as they needed to and it wouldn’t mess up their ‘look.’
Their pumpkins greeted us when we came home!
Once we were home they sat down and began to sort their candy and immediately began discussing their costume ideas for next year while I made a late supper.
Today we are taking down the Halloween decorations, giving the house a once over with the broom, and starting a new book!
We really hit our stride in October. Maybe I said that for September? I don’t know, but October felt so full and lazy all at the same time. My ideal blend of goings-on.
We learned a ridiculous amount about Vikings which took up most of our history and geography. Aside from that, we continued to focus on reading, grammar, and math as our core subjects.
Below is a bit more of the additional school-related things.
One big change we’re trying out is rotating days. I teach Mae Mondays and Wednesdays (Grammar, math, reading, writing, sewing, and whatever she adds to it.) and Rae on Tuesdays and Thursdays (Grammar, reading, math, drawing, and whatever she wants to add to it).
They also cook all the meals on their days (especially supper). We meet each day for lunch/tea time and work on Bible lessons, German, and our group read aloud – this month focused on mysteries such as Nancy Drew and Box Car Children.
Fridays, we are all together and accomplish our history, science, and anything else they want to do, like play board games, go for a walk or bake a new-to-us thing. We all cook breakfast and supper together on this day.
It has been so nice having an entire day one-on-one, and I can tell they enjoy a bit of scheduled time alone to work on what they want. Sewing, scrapbooking, crocheting, drawing, painting, Barbies and babydolls, PBS computer games, Legos, and archery have been some of the things they chose during this time. Mae also chose to watch folks make things on youtube. Primitive Technology and Evan and Katelyn are two of her favorites.
Mae read Sarah, Plain and Tall as one of her independent read alouds.
I always love my time listening to her read. I no longer have to chime in with help – unless the writer chooses a strange name – but she is someone who discusses the book all the way through. So many questions and comments come from her. It makes me happy to see what she finds funny.
As a kid, I loved watching the movie at my Vovo’s house, so as a surprise, I ordered the movie to give her when she completed the book. Watching it with her was just as fun! She really liked that most of their words were verbatim from the book. She’s so cool. She was most excited about the scene where they go swimming in the pond. It did not disappoint.
While the weather was still decent, we made a point to go on a few picnics a week. We may yet decide to hold some soup and cider picnics before the month is up but with so much rain and snow in the forecast, I may chicken out.
Rae has officially begun typing lessons along with her sister!
We use typing.com and they enjoy it…and enjoy seeing their progress…and having their own account they get to sign into. Ha.
This month Mae began writing. She has always had a desire to write stories (and tell stories). I decided to forgo the struggle of letting her work through her limited spelling vocabulary and now I type her narration and show her how to use Google docs and format a book, save it and print it so she can ease into doing it all solo.
I had her write a book a week. About two weeks in, we started up the fireplace – which meant we pulled out old newspapers for kindling. She typically saves the newspapers we receive and reads through them and does her best to memorize the weather for the week. One afternoon, she told me she wanted to write a newspaper and already had the day’s hourly weather written up (which she figured out independently). How could I say no? We drew it up in Photoshop and printed four copies, one for each of us (She gave a couple to Zack’s friends, too).
I have given her the job of creating one at the beginning of every month so we know what is going on and what we have to look forward to!
When she was done designing her newspaper, we began her first sewing lesson. She has done a lot of hand sewing and used the machine a ‘tweensy’ bit but she wants to be great at it. So! great she shall be. (And her legs are finally a good length!)
In the first photo, she is getting used to the speed by stitching rows and rows of straight lines while also turning the fabric to make the stitch continuous.
After she felt comfortable and was less mad with power (she makes everything in life hilarious), I helped her make the cutest bento bag for Rae’s American Girl doll.
She wants to open a small shop/sale (yard sale style). I told her if she works hard this winter she can have one with her homemade goods. She knows how to make scrunchies so she will be making a ton of those and bento bags (normal size) and hopefully many more things.
I can already tell that most of her winter schooling will consist of creating anything and everything her beautiful brain thinks up.
We became obsessed with checking in on the bears in Alaska via this live stream. We keep it up at all times and run to see them a few times each day. Sometimes the girls bring their copy work to the desk so they can watch them while they work.
We got back into nature journaling! I love drawing natural and true things (my imagination does not exist when it comes to fiction), so I am all for drawing animals, trees, flowers, shells, pinecones, etc…sometimes even people.
After reading and watching Sarah, Plain and Tall, the girls chose sea shells as our nature drawing subject. Rae really wanted me to take a photo of her drawing set up juuuusst right.
She is so detail-oriented when it comes to drawing. Zack and I are constantly in awe of the doodles she brings us.
I don’t have a photo of it, but her colorings of the shells were immaculate and even more detailed.
Mae doesn’t care for drawing or coloring, but she took the time to draw two angles for each shell!
She sighs at the thought of drawing and d r e a d s coloring.
However, she adores writing and Rae loathes it. Haha.
One week, for our composer and painting lesson, we held off until nighttime, ’cause it was somewhat of a spooky one. Some of you may have seen the videos of it in my Instagram stories.
We listened to Night on Bald (Bare) Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky over and over and over while we discussed Mussorgsky, came up with stories for the music, and at the very end of our talks I told them what it was really about – so I didn’t steer their stories.
For the assignment, we all chose a type of mountain and who was climbing up that mountain. Rae chose a pointed snowy mountain with skiers and Santa overhead. Mae chose a candy mountain with gingerbread men climbing up it. I chose a trash mountain with a raccoon climbing on it.
Elwood P. and Miss Maybe joined us, too.
It was kind of windy, so we used the propane lantern instead of candles. It kept us nice and warm, as did the girl’s hot chocolate.
We took many walks about town, but our favorite place was definitely the new addition to the already very long bike trail in town.
Mae happened to be sick on Rae’s day at one point. I got her a real nice set up back in the bedroom and thoroughly enjoyed my morning alone with Rae.
We did whatever she wanted to – worksheets, youtube stories, coloring, and Legos…with an episode of Adventure Time to accompany her breakfast. It was so nice hanging out with a six-year-old doing only six-year-old things.
Mae got back into the habit of e-mailing grandmas while she was sick.
We often found ourselves crocheting and knitting while watching cozy fall movies. Some of our favorites were Fly Away home, You’ve Got Mail, Little Women, and Harry Potter.
They also began to find joy in practicing cursive white listening to calm music (by candlelight, of course). They really like soundtracks – Little Women, Wall-E, Inside Out, The Hobbit, Pride and Prejudice, and Downton Abbey are a few favorites.